Sunday, October 22, 2006
Colourful comedy but banal bands
It was a rather surreal moment on Tuesday night as I sat amongst a row of strangers all doing their best monster impressions. We had been encouraged to do so by the cast of Madman in the Courtyard at Theatro Technis.
Fortunately this was the only slightly embarrassing audience participation us stiff-upper-lip Brits had to endure in this Mugensha Theatre production, which is inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Knock At The Manor Gate, but set in modern Japan.
To make ends meet, a group of writers, based on real Japanese authors, decide to pawn themselves then act out their stories.
It’s easy to become immersed in the play as the audience sits at stage level surrounding the cast.
Each actor has been given freedom by the director to research and develop their character. There is much improvisation as the colourful cast work together with great synergy.
Black comedy transcends the play but there are elements of toilet humour with sound effects too.
Much of the play’s dialogue is in Japanese, although some English phrases are used. There is an English translation voiceover for critical dialogue and a narrator explains background Japanese traditions.
It is visual enough to ensure the plot can be followed through vivacious use of miming, puppetry, costume and props including words written on scrolls spelling out joke punch lines.
The play runs until 21 October although the level of improvisation and audience participation mean it could be worth seeing more than once
This review originally featured in the Camden New Journal.